In a presidential election with record-setting unfavorable ratings for both major parties' nominees, no small number of people will be voting against a candidate instead of for the candidate whose name they check on the ballot.
Many are calling this election the ultimate choice between "the lesser of two evils." In fact, that very phrase was repeated over and over again when CNN went on a tour through two major swing states, Ohio and Florida, to talk to voters about their concerns and motivations this election.
But for "the lesser of two evils" argument to even make any sense for supporting one candidate over another, there has to be some substantive difference between the two candidates. The following, well-sourced list shows that on major, substantive issues of public policy there is no such difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In fact, Hillary Clinton is just like Donald Trump.
For those of you weary of how the mainstream media has covered this campaign, please note with relish just how much you're about to find yourself reading about actual policy for a change. And please say a big thanks to the Independent Voter Network for being willing to go there.
1. Foreign Policy
President Obama's election and re-election were widely interpreted as a referendum on eight costly years of nation building in the Middle East. Yet both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will continue down the path of more nation building abroad. Both candidates talk like they won't find a foreign military intervention they won't like.
Trump's campaign website lists this as a major foreign policy goal: "Pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS," along with increasing defense spending: "Work with Congress to fully repeal the defense sequester and submit a new budget to rebuild our depleted military."
Clinton's campaign has also strongly signaled continuity with Bush-Obama era military policy, promising to "sustain a robust military presence in the Middle East." She also strongly suggests she will increase military spending "by ending the sequester for both defense and non-defense spending in a balanced way."
2. Building A Wall
The issue that launched Donald Trump to the front of the Republican Primary, and arguably his signature policy issue, is building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
That's a position that Hillary Clinton completely agrees with. She voted for it! In a November 2015 speech, she said, “Look, I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in. And I do think you have to control your borders.”
She was referring to her 2006 vote for the Secure Fence Act, to build a 700 mile-long, double-fenced wall on the border with Mexico, as well as more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, cameras, satellites, and drones as its GovTrack.us page details. Trump proposes building a wall that’s 1,000 miles long.
Donald Trump has been soundly criticized for contradicting himself on the campaign trail and in interviews. A video of Trump repeatedly flip-flopping on his prior statements went super-viral earlier this year. Voters get the sense that he'll say anything to look good in an interview, not necessarily what he really believes. One poll conducted around the same time as the video found that 60% of voters find Donald Trump untrustworthy.
The same survey found that 60% of voters also find Hillary Clinton untrustworthy. Indeed, when a private speech Clinton made to a trade organization was leaked, journalists found that she actually said she has a "public position" on some issues that isn't really her "private position" when negotiating "back room discussions and deals."
4. Wall Street
A major criticism of Donald Trump by his detractors is that he would be in the service of Wall Street banks. Hillary Clinton even criticized him on this count during one of the presidential debates, saying that he owes Wall Street a lot of money. But according to the Associated Press, quite the same is true of Hillary:
"In private paid speeches to financial firms and interest groups before she declared her candidacy, the Democratic presidential nominee comes off as a knowing insider, willing to cut backroom deals, embrace open trade and grant Wall Street a central role in crafting financial regulations, according to excerpts obtained last week through hacked campaign emails provided to WikiLeaks."
5. Monetary Policy
Donald Trump is a self-proclaimed "low interest rate person." When the New York Times asked him about Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in an interview on monetary policy, he said, "She’s a low-interest-rate person, she’s always been a low-interest-rate person. And I must be honest, I am a low-interest-rate person. If we raise interest rates, and if the dollar starts getting too strong, we’re going to have some very major problems."
To be fair, Clinton has been tight-lipped on monetary policy and hasn't adopted a public position on interest rates, but given her close relationship with Wall Street, as mentioned above, it's quite hard to believe a Clinton administration would tighten the spigots, when her friends and patrons on Wall Street are so far upstream in the lending process and get to profit very lucratively by lending out all that cheap money before it's had a chance to circulate and devalue the rest of the monetary base.
6. LGBT Rights
Donald Trump has consistently opposed gay marriage in interview after interview for a decade now, telling Bill O'Reilly, for instance, "I just don't feel good about it. I don't feel right about it. I'm against it, and I take a lot of heat because I come from New York. You know, for New York it's like, how can you be against gay marriage? But I'm opposed to gay marriage."
But LGBT and their supporters may not have a friend in the White House if Hillary Clinton gets elected either, just an alliance of convenience. In a leaked email exchange one campaign staffer strategizes on how to backpedal her support of the Defense of Marriage Act in the 90s, when a lead Clinton speechwriter reiterates her actual, private position on gay marriage: “I’m just saying that she’s not going to want to say she was wrong about that, given she and her husband believe it and have repeated it many times.”
7. Legalizing Marijuana
In a 2015 ABC This Week interview, Donald Trump made it clear he opposes legalizing marijuana: “Well, I did not think about it, I said it's something that should be studied and maybe should continue to be studied… But it's not something that I would want to do. “
Hillary Clinton is on Donald Trump’s side when it comes to legalizing this very common, non-violent crime. When a campaign staffer asked her in an email what she thinks about “legalization of pot,” she said she opposes it “in all senses of the word.”
8. The National Debt / Federal Spending
One big criticism of Donald Trump’s fiscal policy is that his across-the-board tax cuts, coupled with increased spending will increase the national deficit drastically. But both candidates favor increased spending and increasing deficits, adding to the already unconscionably ballooning national debt.
According to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both advocating policies that would drive the federal budget off a cliff.” Clinton (aged 69) and Trump (aged 70) may not have to reckon with the national debt crisis to come, but unless someone invents cold fusion, millennials will certainly have to, and other than pandering to them on a couple token issues for a vote, neither candidate seems to have their best interests in mind."
9. The Establishment Picked Them
Trump supporters are quick to point out that he is a rebuke to the establishment, an outside-the-beltway populist candidate interested in true reform. And this is portrayed as a stark contrast to Hillary Clinton, who is about as established in Washington politics as someone could possibly be. But the establishment picked Trump too.
It should be a well-known fact by now that for obvious reasons, whichever candidate receives the most media coverage during a primary is the candidate that wins. The establishment media, so reviled by Trump’s supporters, is who told them to vote for him in the first place with over $2 billion worth of free advertising. And Clinton supporters should consider that the same establishment that picked her, picked Trump.
10. The Lesser of Two Evils
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, one of the major things Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have in common, that really stands out, is the record-breaking distaste for both of these candidates. They are both really disliked by the electorate, yet both hold their party's nomination, a clear sign of the dysfunction in our bipartisan system that the Independent Voter Network has warned about for years.
Voters, pundits, activists, celebrities-- so many people say a vote for Clinton or Trump is a vote for the lesser of two evils, uncritically disregarding third party and independent candidates as even an option for voters. And that's what all of these similarities in this list ultimately amount to: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both come from and represent the interests of the same one-party system masquerading as a two-party system in this country.